10 Free Things to Do in Bangkok on Thailand Travel

Travel tips

Lumpini Park at twilight, Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok is famously one of the most budget-friendly cities in the world. The American dollar stretches a long way here and you can float by with a lot less cash than in other major cities in Asia, like Hong Kong and Tokyo. However, even in Bangkok, it’s nice to have some options on your Thailand travel itinerary that can take up parts of the day, but don’t cost you a thing.

This is where we come in. We’ve put together some ideas for interesting activities in the Thai capital that won’t cost you a dime. The following are 10 no-budget options for Bangkok. Head to these temples, parks, and markets to explore the city for free and save your baht for all the delicious food that the city has to offer.

1. Take a green break in Lumpini Park.

Getting a break from the concrete jungle is important in any city, and even more-so in Bangkok, where the crowded streets and warm weather can easily add up. That’s why you need to take advantage of Lumpini Park, one of the largest parks in Bangkok. Located in the middle of the city and founded in 1925 by King Rama VI, Lumpini Park is a great place to take a free “time-out” to practice some tai chi alongside like-minded individuals or take a paddle boat out onto the lake.

Lumpini Park is also a great place to visit if you’re travelling with children. There are several playgrounds located within its borders and you can easily grab some street food and head here for a picnic on the grass for a cheap lunch option.

2. Peruse the largest market in the country.

Heading to a market doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend money. Chatuchak Market, also known as J.J. Market, is the largest market in Thailand and a must-do on a Bangkok vacation, even if you have no intention of spending money. The market is only open on weekends and there’s no entrance fee. With over 8,000 stalls selling everything from scarves and Thai silk to novelty shirts and traditional jewelry, pottery, and trinkets, you’ll find something to keep you occupied here even if you want to leave the bargaining to others. As well, the sheer enormity of the market is something to behold. Chatuchak is almost a city within a city. You have to see it to believe it.

View of Chatujak Weekend Market rooftops, Bangkok, Thailand
View of Chatujak Weekend Market rooftops

3. Experience a touch of the old city at Pak Khlong Talad.

If you like the idea of exploring a marketplace, on Thailand travel, but are daunted by the crowds and size of Chatuchak, consider a trip to Pak Khlong Talad, Bangkok’s flower market. Fresh flowers arrive after midnight and into the early morning, so if you want to see flowers at the height of their colour, consider heading there before turning in for the night. It’s your best chance to spot some Dutch tulips and jasmine before the heat gets to them and the wilting begins. As well, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the old city here, so even if you head in the daytime and miss the early morning delivery, you’ll have plenty of sights to enjoy.

4. Watch a Thai puppet show at the Baan Silapin Artist’s House.

Thai puppet at Baan Silapin Artist Village, Bangkok, Thailand
Thai puppet at Baan Silapin Artist Village

Built around 200 years ago, the Baan Silapin Artist’s House has long attracted local artists who want to mingle and share their art with an admiring public. Head to Baan Silapin to admire the wooden architecture of the home and its location along the Khlong Bang Luang Canal. You’ll also be able to take in one of the famous Thai puppetry shows that have long dazzled locals and tourists alike. Although donations are encouraged for the performers, they’re not obligatory, so this is a good place for a show if you’re absolutely cash-strapped.

5. Learn to meditate at Wat Mahathat.

If you need to take a mental detox during your time in Bangkok, head to Wat Mahathat to take part in one of the walk-in meditation classes organized by monks at the temple. These monks have made it their mission to spread the practice of Thai meditation to visitors, both local and foreign. Classes occur at 7am, 1pm, and 6pm, and include instructions on both seated and walking meditation. Learning how to declutter your mind and relax for free (donations are encouraged) is more than a bargain; it should be an absolute necessity at the end of a Thailand vacation.

6. Enjoy some traditional Thai dancing outside Erawan Shrine.

While you might have your mind on shopping when you’re in the heart of the Siam Shopping District, you can take in some traditional dancing at Erawan Shrine near the Erawan Shopping Mall, as a free break between mall visits. Dancers put on a classical show several times a day, demonstrating the traditional music and rhythms of Thai music and dance. As well, it’s a great opportunity to admire some of the elaborate costumes of traditional Thai dancers. It’s also a smart culture break during a day of high-end shopping.

Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, Thailand
Erawan Shrine

7. Experience the world’s backpacking capital on Khao San Road.

Merely walking a street doesn’t sound exciting, but if you think that, you’ve probably never been to Khao San Road, ground zero for the world’s backpacking culture. Khao San Road is a must-do experience on Thailand travel, and it costs you nothing to walk down its length and witness the pulsing culture on display. Grab a plastic bag of mango juice and stroll down its concourse to pass crowds of backpacking foreigners, vendors, and all manner of street hustlers trying to convince you to buy their wares, come to their bar or nightclub, or sign you up for some legally-ambiguous service. You might not want to stay long on Khao San, but you haven’t really been to Bangkok if you skip its madness.

8. Survey the city from the Golden Mount.

Conveniently located near Khao San Road, the Temple of the Golden Mount, or Wat Saket, gives you an incredible panoramic view of the city. Walk up the 318 steps to the temple at the top and you’ll be treated to sights you won’t want to miss. Entry to the temple will cost you a few baht, but climbing the mount is free and so is the view. Kids can ring the bells halfway up the mount and you can even see a 19th Century graveyard near the top.

Golden Mount at Wat Saket in Bangkok, Thailand
Golden Mount at Wat Saket

9. Walk amongst butterflies at the Bangkok Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.

Another great option for a green break from the hustle of Bangkok is to head to the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in Rod Fai Park. This nature centre has over 500 butterfly species, which make for great photography subjects or merely relaxing companions after a long day of sightseeing. The park is nearby the Chatuchak Weekend Market, so it’d make a great add-on to a visit to the market, acting as a quiet counterpoint.

10. Close out your day with sunset over Wat Arun.

As one of Bangkok’s most cherished landmarks, Wat Arun should be near the top of your list on Thailand travel. While a visit inside the temple will cost you some money, you can easily enjoy the sight of this landmark for free. There’s no better time to see it than at sunset, when the sun dips and the fading light illuminates the temple’s stunning towers. For the best views, watch the sunset from the opposite side of the river or, even better, take a boat out onto the Chao Phraya River. It’s a spectacular way to close out a full day of sightseeing.

Phra Prang Wat Arun along the Chao Phraya River at twilight, Bangkok, Thailand
Phra Prang Wat Arun along the Chao Phraya River at twilight

The vibrant city of Bangkok has so much to keep you occupied on a Thailand vacation. Luckily, its wealth of options extend to a lot of free things to see and do, making a fulfilling trip here easy to afford and plan. These free things are great options to keep in the back of your pocket if you find yourself running low on baht or getting tired of temple visits. They make a trip to Bangkok that much easier for you and your wallet.